Charlie Manuel, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies continues to ponder his team’s early-season deficiencies. He will find no surprises, just unreal expectations.
These fanciful “high hopes” are strewn throughout Manuel’s roster. The 2013 season is a new chapter, but the book is an old story the roots of which are firmly embedded in Phillie history. The current cast of characters is simply playing out the script that was written long before this year’s first pitch was thrown. Take the following examples:
Ben Revere, the much ballyhooed answer to the leadoff hitter question. His season-to-date performance is not a surprise. His script reads “plays outstanding defense with great speed but is dismal offensively”. Where’s the surprise? Revere is who he is. So, the leadoff hitter question remains unanswered.
Domonic Brown, the long-awaited savior of the outfield. Yet, this year begins like all previous years. His acting part reads, “an above-average player with great power when the money’s not on the line. Looks great in spring training”. Obviously, the outfield has not found its savior.
Ryan Howard, the man-child who can’t seem to shake the demons that prevent him from being truly great. But, his script is true. The lines read, “from slow starts to career-plaguing injuries, Howard will not carry this team because he isn’t capable”. The power and drive will have to be found elsewhere. Hint: it doesn’t exist on this current roster.
Jimmy Rollins, the hot-cold-hot team leader-pretender. His script reads truthfully and sounds like, “attracts fans and media attention but when the attention wanes, so do his numbers”. Plus, he isn’t going to motivate the Phillies consistently enough to get them to the postseason.
Roy Halladay, he of the impeccable pitching credentials ie., Cy Young Award, perfect game, etc. on the downside of his career, which everyone knew coming into the season. It’s nothing unexpected here unless you believe in the tooth fairy.
There’s no surprise there either — just a once upon a time pitcher who could stir memories of great throwers from the past.
Oh, but there is one surprise and disappointment. Carlos Ruiz was the All-Everything to Phillie fans. Clean cut, polite, hard-worker and a guy you’d easily invite to a holiday dinner.
The expectations for Chooch were not misplaced. His script, however, did have a surprise ending, and it’s one that could impact and derail his path to stardom. Too bad — he was in the right role but couldn’t read his lines.
The show will continue and these actors will be expected to do more than their talents permit. Don’t look for surprises from them. Maybe it’s a matter of setting more realistic expectations.